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Hide and Seek - The Psychology of Self-Deception [Kindle Edition]

Neel Burton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $22.00
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

What we believe to be the motives of our conduct are usually but the pretexts for it. -- Miguel de Unamuno, Tragic Sense of Life.

How and why do we deceive ourselves? How does this impact on us and those around us? And what, if anything, can we do about it? This book is a stand-alone sequel and companion piece to 'The Art of Failure', which explores what it means to be successful, and how, if at all, true success can be achieved.

From the back cover: Self-deception is common and universal, and the cause of most human tragedies. Of course, the science of self-deception can help us to live better and get more out of life. But it can also cast a murky light on human nature and the human condition, for example, on such exclusively human phenomena as anger, depression, fear, pity, pride, dream making, love making, and god making, not to forget age-old philosophical problems such as selfhood, virtue, happiness, and the good life. Nothing could possibly be more important.

Burton provides an excellent explanation of how we use psychological defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from painful truths ... [The book] would make a great present for friends interested in psychology, and a welcome change to the standard examination revision texts in psychiatry. --The Psychiatrist

Editorial Reviews


Burton provides an excellent explanation of how we use psychological defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from painful truths ... [The book] would make a great present for friends interested in psychology, and a welcome change to the standard examination revision texts in psychiatry. --The Psychiatrist

Product Details

  • File Size: 919 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Acheron Press (February 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0079QQJIK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,712 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought provoking April 4, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an absolutely fascinating, worrying and thought provoking read. We all like to think we know ourselves better than anyone else does but do any of us realise how much we are deceiving ourselves about some things in our lives? I found myself alternately laughing and frowning as I read. I was laughing as I recognised other people's self deceptions and frowning as I was forced to recognise that some at least of these issues are mine.

The author suggests that it is never going to be possible for any of us to eliminate self deception completely from our lives and that some forms of self deception can actually prove very productive for us. Many forms of self deception are ways in which we can deal with difficult situations.

A good example is having a bad day at work and rather than taking it out on family and friends you might go and play a fast and furious game of tennis. Now I know why when I am angry about a situation where it is going to be counter-productive to express that anger I take refuge in doing a lot of household chores very fast and with a great deal of energy! Sublimation can be useful.

There are many other forms of self deception and the author cites many interesting examples of where self deception has been used in public situations. I am a glass half full person and I was slightly annoyed to realise that this could be classed as self deception as I am always ignoring the bad things about any situation and focussing on the good things. I cheered up when I realised that the glass half empty people of my acquaintance are also guilty of self deception.

This is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in human being and how they behave and the reasons for that behaviour.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to peek through the curtains of the mind March 22, 2012
By Feast
On the surface, Burton's Hide & Seek purports to describe the many ego defence mechanisms we use to protect ourselves from painful truths. It is certainly an effective summary of them, and its short chapter format allows it to act as a concise reference guide, especially for readers who come at the subject without prior knowledge of this area. At a deeper, more subtextual level, it encourages the reader to identify which mechanisms they are using in their own lives, and whether they are helping or hindering the search for personal happiness. A worthy exercise for all to undertake!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, wise and very interesting March 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Writing from a Freudian perspective with insights from evolutionary psychology, Greek philosophy, the "Bhagavad Gita," Buddhism, and everyday life, psychiatrist/philosopher Neel Burton makes it clear that self-deception is and has always been the norm in human behavior.

Dr. Burton organizes ego defenses into four basic categories: "abstraction," "transformation (or distortion)," "evasion," and "projection."

Abstraction includes denial, repression, anger, intellectualization, depression, and some others. Transformation recalls reaction formation (a term I haven't heard in years), minimization, etc. Evasion is about being vague or inauthentic, or maybe regressing or daydreaming, or telling jokes. Projection is basically tagging others with your own failures or shortcomings.

This all may sound somewhat abstract but Burton's straightforward and uncluttered prose makes this book a surprisingly easy read. Some of that is due to the vivid examples from history and literature that Burton provides to support his elaborate taxonomy.

I very much liked Burton's defense of depression especially in light of the overmedication we are getting from the psychiatric profession these days. Burton writes "The time and space and solitude that the adoption of the depressive position affords prevents us from making rash decisions...," allows us "to see the bigger picture" and "to reassess our social relationships..." (p. 60). I would add that seasonal depression at least may well be adaptive in that staying put (depressed persons typically don't want to do anything or go anywhere) when the weather is not good may help to avoid danger and prolong life.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh January 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a graduate with a degree in psychology, I was expecting a book that went deeper into the defense mechanisms and gave more interesting examples than what I already knew of, but it didn't deliver. I was pretty bored reading through most of the chapters and all the philosophical references that kept coming up. This book basically just defines each defense mechanism, gives an example, and then ends it with a quote from a philosopher, story or poem. I was looking for something more thought provoking and deeper than a summary of all the terms. The best chapter was reaction formation, and that's what I was hoping the whole book was going to be like.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different look September 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really liked what this book had to say about depression. I never thought about why it was not bred out of humanity. Why it might be an important trait. The book opened my eyes there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book June 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Book is a bit of a fog cutter, its helps to see the forest through the trees. Can't imagine needing to be protected from reality, but I guess I'm not an ostrich either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Written in a concise manner.
Published 21 days ago by Jason Lowry
2.0 out of 5 stars More confused after reading.
Not too sure what this book is getting at. There's probably better helpful books out there.
Published 2 months ago by Dradeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book will expand your awareness.
Published 5 months ago by Robert
4.0 out of 5 stars A good extension to "The Art of Failure"
So far my favorite book by Burton is "The Art of Failure." It is well structured, organized, and truly impactful, particularly as a guide to self-examination. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kris
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really a practical book
There are interesting points about denial or self deception, but if you are looking for help this is possibly not the book for you.
Published 12 months ago by SaraD
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Good book for introspection and also to understand other people. Like the authors narration and conclusions. Also written well by tackling each type of self-deception strategies.
Published 17 months ago by Attentive
1.0 out of 5 stars An authors self deception
This is one of the worst professional books that I have read. In the most extreme, it has no redeeming features, either as self help book nor as a refernce for professinals. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Robert T Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insight into people's motivations
Thought provoking book, and very well written. I haven't finished it yet, as it is not something easily devoured. It takes time to digest and think.
Published 18 months ago by Babs0909
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written and Well-Organized!
Non-fiction books have a certain notoriety for stating the obvious, but dispelling that myth, Dr. Neel Burton's Hide & Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception provides information... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jeriel
5.0 out of 5 stars book
Everyone should read this book. I really enjoyed it and learned a few things along the way. Excellent read for everyone.
Published on January 9, 2013 by MaryAnn
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More About the Author

Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher, writer, and wine-lover who lives and teaches in Oxford, England.

He is the recipient of the Society of Authors' Richard Asher Prize, the British Medical Association's Young Authors' Award, and the Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award.

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